Circle times are learning sessions that take place in preschool, kindergarten and elementary settings. Children sit with their teachers in a circle or semicircle on the floor, or on chairs, depending on the nature or requirements of the lesson. A circular seating plan enables all children to see their teacher and each other, and to become equally involved in activities. Establish basic rules for all learning sessions, such as taking turns to speak. Use circle times to introduce learning themes for a range of curriculum subjects.
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Prepare for this activity by asking pupils to bring to school one photograph of a family member, for example, an aunt, a grandad or a cousin. Organise a "Show and Tell" circle time, when children talk about their photographs. Print statements that describe something positive and interesting about each family member, for example: "Joe's grandad keeps chickens, and Joe likes to eat the fresh eggs for his breakfast." Display the photographs and statements near the carpet area. Use the photographs for further discussions that support children's personal, social and emotional development, such as how people help us.
Ask children to describe their favourite animal and then sort the animals into different categories, for example, domestic pets, zoo animals or farm animals. Make lists of animal names on the white board under the different classification headings. Prepare for the next circle time by printing off pictures of animals, and display them near the carpet area. Play "Animal Riddle" games, for example, "Who am I?" games, as suggested by the Lesson Sense website, to stimulate children's expressive language and problem solving skills. For example, say, "I am black and white. I have wings but I do not fly." Encourage children to create animal riddles for each other.
Sprinkle odorous, non-toxic substances, such as lemon juice, cocoa powder and lavender oil, onto cotton wool pads, and place in separate, lidded, plastic or paper cups. Prick holes in the lids and let children describe each smell. Linda Mort, author of "Circle Time," suggests teaching children to use their senses safely by displaying pictures of eyes, hands, ears, nose and tongue. Pass an interesting item around the circle, such as an aubergine, and let children choose to describe it by using one of their senses, as appropriate, reminding them to taste items only if an adult has ensured its safety.
Encourage mutual respect and cooperative skills through fun circle time games. For example, let children introduce their names by using alliterative nouns or adjectives, for example, "Pineapple Penny" or "Cool Christopher." Encourage children to get to know each other and to extend their friendship groups. Provide a sheet for each child that contains descriptions, such as "Someone who likes ice cream," or "Someone who plays soccer." Let children move around the group and try to find someone who matches each description. They can then sign each other's sheets or write names on their own sheets.
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